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Technology Grant Helps Art’s Cleaners Go Green

October 7, 2011, Lowell, Mass. - UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded Art’s Cleaners in Westborough a $17,000 matching grant to purchase wet cleaning equipment that allows the small business to eliminate the use of toxic solvents to clean clothes.

The dry cleaner was already using wet cleaning technologies but due to a large volume of clothes, they sent out about 40 percent of incoming garments to another dry cleaning facility that used hydrocarbon solvents. The petroleum-based solvents are flammable, and high exposures can affect the central nervous system, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

“About 50 percent of our customers ask us what chemicals we are using to clean our clothes,” said Sue Koo, spokeswoman for Art’s Cleaners. “Now we are protecting health of our customers and the environment. The TURI grant also helped our business be more financially successful because we are able to clean all clothes in house.”

Wet cleaning technologies allow for “dry-clean-only” clothes to be effectively washed with water in computer-controlled machines and then finished with tensioning and pressing equipment.

As part of the grant requirement, Art’s Cleaners is hosting two demonstration events for other dry cleaners to see wet cleaning technologies in action. The first event on October 11th, Noon to 2 p.m., will be conducted in English. The second demonstration on October 25th, also from Noon to 2 p.m. will be conducted in Korean. Both are free of charge and space is limited. To reserve a spot or for more information, contact Joy Onasch at 978-934-4343 or [email protected]

With the help of TURI cleaner technology grants, four dry cleaners in Massachusetts have adopted wet cleaning technologies rather than using perchloroethylene or hydrocarbons. The other dry cleaners who have switched to wet cleaning methods include Silver Hanger Cleaners in Bellingham, Best Neighborhood Cleaners in Medford and Ace Cleaners in North Andover.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Institute

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses. For more information about the TURI Community Grant Program, contact Joy Onasch, [email protected], 978-934-4343.